A green energy transformation that benefits local communities

Green energy projects must be built in harmony with local communities. Creating shared value and addressing local concerns require a systematic approach.

Green energy projects form a tangible part of the communities in which they’re based. As we expand our installed renewable energy capacity across Europe, North America, and Asia- Pacific, local stakeholder expectations will continue to diversify. To manage them effectively, we must ensure that the tools used to identify and address these concerns remain grounded in a systematic approach that’s consistent across our organisation.
Local stakeholder groups Example of topics 
 Our neighbours  Noise levels, visual impacts, location of transmission cables           
 Local elected officials  Tax revenue, job creation, general skills development
 Local industry and suppliers  Supply chain opportunities, focused skills development
 Local educational institutions  Curriculum additions, apprenticeships, attracting talent
 Environmental NGOs  Minimising negative environmental impacts, creating positive impacts
 Fisheries and users of the sea  Coordinating ongoing use of the sea
 Indigenous populations  Ancestral lands, cultural heritage

Our experience shows that the green energy transformation can drive long-term growth for local communities. For instance, the offshore wind industry has helped rejuvenate the economies of the British coastal towns of Grimsby and Hull. Ørsted’s East Coast Hub in the port of Grimsby is the world’s largest offshore wind operations and maintenance centre; and 8,000 people were involved in the construction of our Hornsea 1 Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Yorkshire. In addition to creating these new economic opportunities, we actively helped the local community to take advantage of them, such as through local job creation and training schemes.

Across our projects, we engage local stakeholders and address concerns to the greatest extent possible. We include stakeholders early to understand their concerns and design projects accordingly. This dialogue often leads to local solutions to the issues raised, and which are developed in collaboration with the local community. Often our stakeholder engagement is important to winning project bids, securing permits and licenses, and earning local support for the construction of our projects.

Working with local fisheries to enable co-use of the sea

When building new offshore wind farms, we often develop in waters that are also used for commercial fishing. This can create concern among local fisheries regarding both access to fishing grounds and effects on fish stocks.

That’s why we tailor our approach to the local context and engage commercial and recreational fishers as early as possible. We invite representatives of fisheries into our project planning through a series of community meetings and employ local fishing industry representatives to ensure effective communication and collaboration throughout the development, construction, and operational phases of our projects. In the U.S., for instance, we’ve created a virtual offshore wind farm navigation simulator for mariners, enabling them to experience piloting through an offshore wind farm.
In many cases, our offshore wind farms co-exist peacefully alongside thriving local fisheries. However, where issues relating to marine spatial planning and regional fisheries management arise, solutions may need to be shaped politically by local or national governments.

As we scale our activities globally, we’re building a more systematic approach to local communities, fully aligned with best practice and international human rights standards. We do so across all our offshore wind projects and broadened to include our growing onshore wind and solar business, and we aim to strengthen company-wide reporting on local community engagement activities.

Sustainability report 2020

A sustainable build-out of green energy